chapter  6
16 Pages

Gastronomic tourism

Comparing food and wine tourism experiences
WithC.M. Hall and R. Mitchell

A lay perspective on food and wine tourism might suggest that food and drinks have always been a part of the tourism experience. Indeed, that is true, but accounts suggest that it was not until the early to mid-nineteenth century, with the invention of the restaurant and the commodification of cuisines into regional and national categories and as a result of the medium of cookbooks and codification of cooking styles, that food and wine became a travel product in its own right. However, the number of travellers who were food and wine tourists at this time was extremely small, not only because of lifestyle interest but also because of the time and monetary costs of mobility. However, improvements in technology allowed not only people to travel further in a shorter period of time but also allowed foodstuffs to do the same. It is therefore perhaps of no great surprise that the designation of the first wine trails and roads in Germany in the late 1920s coincided with the growth of automobile ownership and the development of autobahn out from the larger cities. Reflexive interest in food also began to grow in the immediate postSecond World War period as not only did the range of foodstuffs available to households in western countries also grow rapidly because of the end of rationing and further improvements in transport technology but, so of course did the movement of people. One of the key understandings of the tourism-food and tourism-wine relation-

ships is that when people travel they take their ‘tastebuds and stomachs’ with them and, when they return home, some of the new acquired tastes may then influence their food consumption in terms of choice of restaurant and selection of what is purchased to eat at home. Arguably, demand for the wide range of cuisines to be found in restaurants in the developed world is as much a function of travel and interest in ‘the other’ as it is the mobility of migrant or ethnic populations. The rise of celebrity chefs and celebrity restaurants that has occurred since the late 1970s has served to reinforce not only the potential attraction of such restaurants, but also the role of the media with respect to food and drinks in making cuisine a major element of contemporary western lifestyle. Nowadays, the ‘kind’ of food and wine

consumed and the ‘location’ where it is consumed are indicators of a lifestyle as much as the holiday destination and the activities undertaken. The transition of food and drinks, from a necessity to a status commodity, has extremely important implications for the firms, places and people that produce food and wine tourism.